Christmas in the air | Pen to Print – Friday Features

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Palak Tewary, regular Write On! contributor, shares with us her Christmas Eve spent flying to spend it with family and the difference the pandemic restrictions made.

Christmas In The Air 

After a year and a half, I finally booked my ticket with shaking hands. It took a lot of research – a full plan of what I needed to get done and by when. It was more than visas now: forms, tests and rules. I had to make sure I knew it all.

Finally, being double vaccinated and with the amber lists turning to green, I could at least see family without having to quarantine. With that thought in mind, I booked my holidays. It seemed everyone had the same idea. The only flight I could get was on 24th December evening and returning on 1st January. With a sigh, I clicked ‘reserve’ – both my Christmas and New Year’s would be up in the clouds.

With all the changes we’ve seen in the last couple of years, this seemed to be a new normal I readily accepted; as was queuing up to get tested for Covid two days before my flight, pausing for only a split second to pay extra for a seat, to ensure there’d be at least one empty seat next to me. This is an option the airlines have now included to allow for social distancing, including arriving three hours before my flight, even though I had checked in online.

Packing meant having a good stock of sanitisers and masks. In addition to the passport, ticket and boarding pass, ensuring I had my test results, the passenger forms, my vaccination certificate – in triplicate!

The bustle of the airport appeared to be just the same as before, but there was a sense of the fantastic as we all walked around in masks, sanitising at every turn, after every interaction. Yet it was strangely exciting, as though it was my first trip. I felt like a butterfly, finally emerging from the cocoon of lockdown, ready to test my wings.

When travelling, we tend to remember the places we’ve visited and the sights we’ve seen. Sometimes we remember the food we’ve eaten, the stories we’ve unearthed and the people we’ve met, but there are only a few journeys that are remembered. There was the one when I’d travelled alone for the first time, the one when we were stuck at an airport for three days, the one where I almost missed a flight, the one where we lost our passports and the one when we had a celeb right across the aisle from us, and now this one: when, on Christmas Eve, I found myself above the clouds with a pre-packaged piece of fruit cake.

© Palak Tewary, 2021

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